Energy retailer Mercury Energy has revitalised its Auckland headquarters with a radical refurbishment which has transformed a rabbit warren of offices and corridors to a stimulating open-plan environment that encourages interaction and productivity.
The open-plan environment has meant that communication has improved in the office. Fresh colours and vibrant spaces make the building a more pleasant place to work. Curves and rounded corners are incorporated throughout to create a fluid, free-flowing environment.
Prior to renovation there were different types of workstations and furniture throughout the office. Uniform furniture types as well as a raised floor has made the work environment far more flexible.
Where possible, fittings and materials were sourced locally to reduce the impact on the environment. Much of the new furniture is made of recycled materials and existing chairs were reupholstered to give them a second life.
“Overall the changes have been a resounding success. Management is finding people are actually spending more time at work, are more energised throughout the day, and also leave work happier - a positive result for all” - Bernd Gundermann, project architect.
SITE AND BRIEF
Energy retailer Mercury Energy is revitalising its Auckland headquarters with a radical refurbishment of 5000 square metres of space which are being transformed from a rabbit warren of offices and corridors to a stimulating open-plan environment that encourages interaction and productivity. The project comprises three stages over three levels of the building. Prior to renovation the interior of the building was outdated and no longer representative of the vibrant, successful company that it housed. The client requested a fresh but enduring design solution which will carry the company forward through the next decade or more.
DESIGN AND CONCEPT
The first task for the designers was to meet the requirements of the brief that required a building that was better organized, lit, and ventilated as well as being more accessible and open. Through extensive consultation with Mercury Energy staff a main theme emerged for the refurbishment - a “culture of openness.” This directed the layout and pattern of workspaces and meeting rooms. The original layout of the building was very rigid and comprised of box-like shapes with the main circulation being in small, tight corridors on the interior of the building. Desks were moved away from the windows and flexibility is enhanced with a raised floor containing wires and cables which enables the quick reorganization of workspaces and departments. A central narrow corridor that connected the western and eastern parts of the ground floor was opened up to an eight-meter-wide “boulevard” which is left as a temporarily open space which is available to growth and expansion, but also connects the teams on different sides of the building.
The interior design is all about Mercury Energy’s brand and business – capturing the dynamic and competitive retail ethos through Mercury’s visual identity and colours. The symbol and bold colours of the company’s logo were incorporated into the design, but are adapted to this flexible and transparent office environment. The pixelated logo was placed onto glass to create semi-transparent walls for the meeting rooms which are still open and bright, yet offer a measure of privacy. Design was also inspired by the people and cultures of Mercury Energy. Curves and rounded corners are incorporated throughout, reminiscent of Asian/Pacific art forms, to create a fluid, free-flowing environment.
A complementary “Pacific” colour palette brings a contemporary vibrancy to the workplace. Much research also went into the properties of colours and their psychological associations. Colours were then chosen and aligned to functional zones accordingly. A warm yellow is the driving colour (and is also part of the corporate identity) which is cheerful and inviting so it was used in the meeting rooms and reception areas. Breakout spaces, the kitchen and cafeteria were highlighted in orange because of its association with warmth, relaxation and because it’s stimulating to the appetite. A greenish blue was used as a backdrop to the working office because of it’s calming effects and studies have shown it strengthens the eyes so it may have a good effect on people who work on computers for extended periods of time. Dark blue colours were used in the “chillax” areas – spaces of refuge and relaxation for the employees during their work day. Bathrooms are a lighter blue and coupled with white which represents cleanness and freshness. Carpet squares in corporate colours are loosely placed in greater density of yellow in meeting rooms and management offices, and they also disperse from the lift lobby outwards.
INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
Prior to renovation there were different types of workstations and furniture throughout the office. This meant that if departments needed to move floors, the furniture needed to move with the employees – often by removing windows and using a crane to transfer bulky furniture from one floor to another. The use of uniform furniture types (as well as the raised floor) means that the work environment is far more flexible. Where possible, fittings and materials were sourced locally to reduce the impact on the environment. Much of the new furniture is made of recycled materials and existing chairs were reupholstered to give them a second life.
The completed first stage has received resounding approval. Communication has improved due to the open environment, while fresh colours and vibrant spaces make the building a more pleasant place to work. Management is finding people are actually spending more time at work – whether it’s arriving early to have a coffee in the bistro areas before work or to retreat to the chillax areas after a stressful day with a newspaper. Staff are more energized and also leave work happier – a positive result for all.